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News Summary

Is the tobacco industry spending for sway in S.C.?

Publication Date: 2008-01-21
  • Publication:(Hilton Head, SC) Island Packet

Tobacco groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying and contributions to lawmakers as the debate over taxes and bans has ignited.

Big tobacco has spent big bucks in the state legislature over the past two years as the debate over cigarette taxes and statewide smoking bans kicked into high gear.

Three industry groups spent a total of at least $785,000 between June 2005 and the end of the last legislative session in June 2007. The money went for lobbying and contributions to lawmakers, an Island Packet review of South Carolina Ethics Commission documents shows.

About 56 percent of that, $442,000, was spent before and during the last legislative session, when cigarette-related issues commanded more attention from the public and lawmakers began considering several bills regulating tobacco...

Tobacco regulation became one of the hottest issues last session after local governments across the state, including Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and Beaufort County, passed smoking bans. Several lawmakers filed bills aimed at nullifying the bans by preempting local governments' right to enact the laws. Some lawmakers also tried to cut a break for smokers and create a smoking permit that would allow restaurants or bars to continue to allow smoking for as little as $100.

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